News from ICLMG

ICLMG’s submission for Canada’s UN Universal Periodic Review

What is the UPR?

The Universal Periodic Review (UPR) is a unique process which involves a review of the human rights records of all UN Member States. The UPR is a State-driven process, under the auspices of the Human Rights Council, which provides the opportunity for each State to declare what actions they have taken to improve the human rights situations in their countries and to fulfil their human rights obligations.

A review of a State is based on: (a) a national report prepared by the State under review; (b) a compilation of United Nations information on the State under review prepared by the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR); and (c) a summary of information submitted by other stakeholders (including civil society actors, national human rights institutions and regional organizations), also prepared by OHCHR.

Our concerns

ICLMG has sent its second UPR submission for Canada. We are happy to report that there have been positive changes since the last UPR, which occurred in 2013, notably a few security certificates have been quashed, several torture survivors have received apologies and compensation from the federal government, and Bill C-59, An Act respecting national security matters, has removed some egregious problems introduced by Bill C-51, the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2015 – although not all of them.

The ICLMG, in this UPR submission, thus raises – and repeats its – concerns regarding:

  • The security certificate regime
  • The no-fly list program
  • The new ministerial directives on information tied to torture
  • Afghan detainees
  • Hassan Diab
  • The criminalization of dissent
  • National security creep, discretionary powers and the use of secret evidence
  • Encryption
  • Counter-radicalization
  • The Protecting Canadians from Online Crime Act (C-13)
  • The Protection of Canada from Terrorists Act (C-44)
  • Bill C-23, The Preclearance Act, 2016
  • The Anti-terrorism Act 2015 (C-51)
  • Bill C-59, An Act respecting national security matters

Summary of our submission

“The ICLMG submits that Canada, in adopting certain anti-terrorism laws and policies, has contravened its obligations under the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, several international human rights treaties and certain provisions of its own Charter of Rights and Freedoms. These laws have expanded police and intelligence-gathering powers, and restricted human rights. Specific examples of these contraventions are set out in the paragraphs to follow and include failure to respect due process and the rule of law, arbitrary arrest, preventative detention, racial profiling and suspension of the principle of innocence until proven guilty.

The ICLMG supports all legitimate efforts to combat terrorism which is in itself a serious attack on human rights, but argues that these efforts must always respect human rights norms. We do not properly defend democracy, the rule of law and a culture of human rights by abdicating these very principles. Security and freedom are not opposites. Respect for fundamental rights is an essential condition, a vital component of security.”

Read our UPR submission

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. Here at ICLMG, we are working very hard to protect and promote human rights and civil liberties in the context of the so-called “war on terror” in Canada. We do not receive any financial support from any federal, provincial or municipal governments or political parties.

You can become our patron on Patreon and get rewards in exchange for your support. You can give as little as $1/month (that’s only $12/year!) and you can unsubscribe at any time. Any donations will go a long way to support our work.panel-54141172-image-6fa93d06d6081076-320-320You can also make a one-time donation or donate monthly via Paypal by clicking on the button below. On the fence about giving? Check out our Achievements and Gains since we were created in 2002. Thank you for your generosity!
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NDP leadership candidates’ positions on national security and human rights

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This summer, we sent a questionnaire to the teams of the four New Democratic Party candidates in the federal leadership race. Our goal is to inform Canadians of the candidates’ positions on national security and human rights so they can make an informed decision if they vote in the NDP leadership race. To vote in the first round you must cast your vote online before 2 PM on October 1st. These answers will also be helpful for holding the new NDP leader accountable.

We have received answers from Niki Ashton and Charlie Angus. Here they are below. If we receive answers from Jagmeet Singh and Guy Caron, we will update the page. If you would like to know their national security positions, feel free to email their teams and request that they send us their answers to our questionnaire: info@jagmeetsingh.cainfo@guycaron.ca

Summary: We based our grading on how close the candidates’ positions were to ICLMG’s own positions. Charlie Angus’ and Niki Ashton’s answers were fairly similar. The main differences between their positions are to be found in their comments on the Terrorist Entities Listing (under the section on Bill C-59), Deradicalization, their overall perception of “war on terror” and their vision guiding the fight against terrorism.

Place your cursor on the X and wait for more comments to appear (if there are any).

NIKI ASHTON: A+

Questions

Yes

No

C-51 (ANTI-TERRORISM ACT, 2015)

Do you think Bill C-51 should be fully repealed? Why? X
BILL C-59 (AN ACT RESPECTING NATIONAL SECURITY MATTERS)
Are you in favor of the creation of the new National Security Review Agency? X  
Are you in favor of the creation of the new Intelligence Commissioner? X  
Are you in favor of the extension of CSE’s powers?   X
Are you in favour of the legalization of CSIS’s retention of Canadians’ metadata, even if it is unrelated to any criminal investigation?   X
Do the changes to SCISA and the definition of threats to national security go far enough?   X
Do you support the Terrorist Entities Listing?    X
What is your opinion on the use of peace bonds and preventative arrest for national security purposes?  See  comments
NO FLY LIST
 Are you in favour of abolishing the no-fly list?   
TORTURE
Do you think there should be a public inquiry into Canada’s transfer of Afghan detainees to Afghan authorities?  X  
SECURITY CERTIFICATES
Do you think the security certificate regime should be abolished?  X  
DERADICALIZATION
Do you agree with the government’s current plans on deradicatlization, including the creation of the Office of the Community Outreach and Counter-Radicalization Coordinator?    X
There are experts who have stated that deradicalization programs stigmatize Muslims further, and that it can create a chill on speech and activism considered “radical”. Do you agree? If you do, what would be your solution?  X  
NORTH AMERICAN SECURITY PERIMETER    
Do you support the Beyond the Border agreement and the integration of Canadian and US border security?   X
PRECLEARANCE AND PRIVACY AT THE BORDER
Do you support Bill C-23? Why?     X
Should border agents be allowed to search electronic devices and access social media accounts of people traveling to Canada?      X
MASS SURVEILLANCE AND METADATA
Do you support the mass collection of metadata?    X
Do you think mass government surveillance should be forbidden?  X  
CRIMINALIZATION OF DISSENT
Do you think more should be done to effectively protect freedom of expression and dissent in Canada from the impact of national security and anti-terrorism laws?   X  
ENCRYPTION
Do you believe individuals should have access to strong encryption?  X  
Should government agencies be granted special access through backdoors?     X
LAWFUL ACCESS
Do you support changes to lawful access rules that would compel companies to give a subscriber’s information or metadata to the government without a warrant?      X
Do you think that companies should be compelled to make their systems compatible with law enforcement’s interception tools?    X

What is your overall perception of the “war on terror”? 

The “war on terror” has been a moral, political, and humanitarian disaster. By supporting and participating in aggressive military endeavors, led by the US and NATO, we have contributed only to more death and devastation in the Middle East and elsewhere, without making any progress towards peace and security. It is time to radically reorient our foreign policy to be a force for peace in the world, in solidarity with the oppressed, and not an accessory of empire.

What is your general vision that would guide the fight against terrorism?

We have to recognize that military interventions have made the problem of terrorism worse, not better. For too long we have relied on the use of imperial power and violence to intervene in the affairs of countries overseas, causing significant harm to civilians and destroying the infrastructure of civil society. This has only increased the resentment and anger that fuels ideologies and organizations engaged in terroristic violence. We must move away from intervention and militarism, and focus our foreign policy on actions that can increase quality of life and goodwill: humanitarian assistance, support for refugees, and solidarity with oppressed groups.

CHARLIE ANGUS: A-

Questions

Yes

No

C-51 (ANTI-TERRORISM ACT, 2015)

Do you think Bill C-51 should be fully repealed? Why? X
BILL C-59 (AN ACT RESPECTING NATIONAL SECURITY MATTERS)
Are you in favor of the creation of the new National Security Review Agency? X  
Are you in favor of the creation of the new Intelligence Commissioner? X  
Are you in favor of the extension of CSE’s powers?   X
Are you in favour of the legalization of CSIS’s retention of Canadians’ metadata, even if it is unrelated to any criminal investigation?   X
Do the changes to SCISA and the definition of threats to national security go far enough?   X
Do you support the Terrorist Entities Listing?    X
What is your opinion on the use of peace bonds and preventative arrest for national security purposes?  See  comments
NO FLY LIST
 Are you in favour of abolishing the no-fly list?   
TORTURE
Do you think there should be a public inquiry into Canada’s transfer of Afghan detainees to Afghan authorities?  X  
SECURITY CERTIFICATES
Do you think the security certificate regime should be abolished?  X  
DERADICALIZATION
Do you agree with the government’s current plans on deradicatlization, including the creation of the Office of the Community Outreach and Counter-Radicalization Coordinator? See comments
There are experts who have stated that deradicalization programs stigmatize Muslims further, and that it can create a chill on speech and activism considered “radical”. Do you agree? If you do, what would be your solution? See above 
NORTH AMERICAN SECURITY PERIMETER
Do you support the Beyond the Border agreement and the integration of Canadian and US border security? X
PRECLEARANCE AND PRIVACY AT THE BORDER
Do you support Bill C-23? Why? X
Should border agents be allowed to search electronic devices and access social media accounts of people traveling to Canada?    X
MASS SURVEILLANCE AND METADATA
Do you support the mass collection of metadata?    X
Do you think mass government surveillance should be forbidden?  X  
CRIMINALIZATION OF DISSENT
Do you think more should be done to effectively protect freedom of expression and dissent in Canada from the impact of national security and anti-terrorism laws?   X  
ENCRYPTION
Do you believe individuals should have access to strong encryption? X  
Should government agencies be granted special access through backdoors?     X
LAWFUL ACCESS
Do you support changes to lawful access rules that would compel companies to give a subscriber’s information or metadata to the government without a warrant?      X
Do you think that companies should be compelled to make their systems compatible with law enforcement’s interception tools?    X

What is your overall perception of the “war on terror”? 

There are fundamental problems with Canada’s role in this open-ended conflict. Keeping citizens safe is the first job of any government, but we need an approach based on judicial oversight rather than executive discretion. Instead of cracking down on individual civil liberties and taking a broad-based, evidence-light approach to widening the scope of the intelligence and security agencies’ mandates, we needs to take a more holistic approach.

What is your general vision that would guide the fight against terrorism?

Canada should build bridges to different communities, take a proactive, independent policy in regions of conflict, limit radicalization by giving young people opportunities and hope for the future, and take a more proactive approach in defusing the rising phenomenon of right-wing paramilitary/militia organizations. We also face major challenges overall with cyber espionage, and are behind in protecting the data of Canadians and the government.

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. Here at ICLMG, we are working very hard to protect and promote human rights and civil liberties in the context of the so-called “war on terror” in Canada. We do not receive any financial support from any federal, provincial or municipal governments or political parties.

You can become our patron on Patreon and get rewards in exchange for your support. You can give as little as $1/month (that’s only $12/year!) and you can unsubscribe at any time. Any donations will go a long way to support our work.panel-54141172-image-6fa93d06d6081076-320-320You can also make a one-time donation or donate monthly via Paypal by clicking on the button below. On the fence about giving? Check out our Achievements and Gains since we were created in 2002. Thank you for your generosity!
make-a-donation-button

New Ministerial Direction falls short on fulfilling goal of preventing the sharing, requesting or use of information tied to torture

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAZPAAAAJGQxNjE5NjEzLThmY2YtNGJmNS04ZDk5LTEyMWUxZjMwZTM1ZQOttawa – “Canada has made obligations under international agreements to in no way support torture, and has made public statements to that effect. This includes when it comes to information and intelligence linked to torture,” says Tim McSorley, the ICLMG’s national coordinator.

“The Liberal government has issued new directives on the collection, request and use of information tied to torture that, while they go further than previous rules, still do not meet those obligations,” he adds.

The ICLMG’s concerns include:

  • That the limit on the sharing and requesting of information is still set to whether there was a “substantial risk” of torture. This is the same threshold as previous directives, and remains too high a limit for rejecting certain kinds of information.
  • That even where a substantial risk of mistreatment is present, mitigating factors such as assurances and caveats can still allow for the sharing or requesting of information. There is no information on how those caveats and assurances are enforced once information is shared or requested.
  • That, regarding the use of information that was likely obtained through the mistreatment of an individual, the government only lays out three situations where this information cannot be used – leaving open other potential uses, such as initiating further investigations, developing profiles, or perhaps even placing them on the no-fly list.
  • That there is a lack of direction around the retention of information: For example, if information that was likely obtained through the mistreatment of an individual is provided to the government in an unsolicited manner, would that information be destroyed, or would it be retained for future potential use?
  • That, as in other reporting on national security issues, what will be shared publicly will not be enough to ensure true accountability and transparency in how information is shared, requested or used.
  • That information requested or shared by the Communications Security Establishment (CSE) is not covered by these directives.

The new directive does make some important changes:

  • The ICLMG welcomes the government’s more explicit wording in the directives regarding its opposition to the sharing, requesting or use of information that was likely obtained through the mistreatment of an individual (although policies must be amended to support that wording).
  • The ICLMG welcomes the elimination of “substantial damage or destruction of property” as an exception allowing the use of information that was likely obtained through the mistreatment of an individual.
  • The ICLMG welcomes the clearer responsibilities for the affected agencies to report on their use of this kind of information to the Minister and to the appropriate review bodies.
  • The ICLMG also appreciates the openness of the government in releasing these directives, allowing for public scrutiny, discussion and debate.

These improvements, though, do not account for what the ICLMG sees as the continued weaknesses in Canada’s policy on information sharing with foreign entities.

“We must be clear: so long as governments are willing to share, request or use information likely produced from mistreatment – even in exceptional circumstances – they are contributing to the value and propagation of this information on the international stage,” says McSorley.

As the government itself notes in the new directive, information obtained through the mistreatment of an individual – especially in instances of torture – is known for being unreliable.

The prohibition of torture is such a categorical and un-ambivalent principle that the only acceptable directives regarding the sharing, requesting or use of information is that it is guaranteed to not have been obtained through torture, or will not lead to torture.

On multiple occasions, the ICLMG has expressed its concerns to the Minister of Public Safety and the federal government, along with its willingness to discuss these directives. We believe that a direct consultation on these directives with the minister before their publication could have helped address some of these concerns, and we continue to offer to meet to help strengthen them in the future.

– 30 –

Since you’re here…

… we have a small favour to ask. Here at ICLMG, we are working very hard to protect and promote human rights and civil liberties in the context of the so-called “war on terror” in Canada. We do not receive any financial support from any federal, provincial or municipal governments or political parties.

You can become our patron on Patreon and get rewards in exchange for your support. You can give as little as $1/month (that’s only $12/year!) and you can unsubscribe at any time. Any donations will go a long way to support our work.panel-54141172-image-6fa93d06d6081076-320-320You can also make a one-time donation or donate monthly via Paypal by clicking on the button below. On the fence about giving? Check out our Achievements and Gains since we were created in 2002. Thank you for your generosity!
make-a-donation-button

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